Bánh Bèo (Steamed Rice Cakes)


For Batter 
3 cups Rice, Homai California Calrose Rice
1/4 cup Sweet Rice
6 cups Water
1 teaspoon Salt
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) Oil
For Toppings
1 pound Shrimps, shell on
1/4 cup Dried Shrimps, optional
3 Slices Sandwiches or Bread, for croutons, optional  or 
1 pound Pork Fat, for fried pork fat, optional
1 bunch of green onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, smashed
3-4 Shallots, thinly sliced or
store-bought Crispy Fried Shallots
a pinch of Salt
Olive Oil
For Fish Sauce Dip
recipe 1
1 1/2 cups Shrimp Broth
3 tablespoons Fish Sauce 
2 tablespoons Sugar
1-2 fresh red chilies, thinly sliced
recipe 2
1/4 cup Fish Sauce
3/4 cup Coco Soda
1/4 cup Sugar
2-3 tablespoons fresh Lime or Lemon juice
1 Red Chili Pepper
3 cloves of Garlic

Preparing Bánh Bèo Batter
As for rice, I used Homai California Calrose Rice and Koda Farms Sho-Chiku-Bai premium sweet rice. I just happened to have these brands of rice in my pantry but you may try any types of rice you prefer. 

Combine the rice in a large bowl.  Rinse a few times until water is cleared.  Soak for at least one hour or overnight. 

Rinse it for the last time.  Drain the rice.  In a Vitamix blender or a high-powered blender or a stone grinder if you have one, add rice, salt with water. Let your blender run at maximum speed of 10 on high for about a minute or until blended. You want to blend the rice as smoothly and finely as possible. 
Slowly pour the batter into the trainer and train it to remove bubbles. 
Add oil and mix well.   Let it sit for at least half an hour to allow the batter to absorb the liquid and the air bubbles to settle before steaming.
Preparing Shrimp Paste Topping
I like the combination of both  aromatic and taste of  fresh and dried shrimps but using fresh or shrimps alone  is good too.  

Preparing dried shrimps - rinse shrimps a few times. Soak it in water for 10-15 minutes until soft. Drain shrimps. You can reserve the water that you soaked the shrimps to make dipping fish sauce. Pound shrimps into a coarse paste with a mortar and pestle.

Preparing fresh shrimps - bring 2 cups of water to a boil (use water from soaking dried shrimp). Add shrimps and cook for a couple minutes until shrimps turn pink. Remove shrimps then peel and reserve the shrimp broth to make dipping fish sauce.
Smash shrimps with a meat tenderizer or the back of the knife. You can also pound shrimps into a coarse paste with a mortar and pestle.
Place a frying pan on low heat, add the crushed dried and fresh shrimps. Use a spatula to mix the shrimps for about 5 minutes or until shrimps are completely dry and bluff.  Set aside.
Preparing Croutons or Fried Pork Fat
Cut bagel, bread or sandwich into small cubes. In a frying pan toss 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and bread cubes. Bring to a medium-low heat. Stir croutons occasionally. Remove the croutons when they are turning golden. Place croutons on a paper towel to absorb the excess of oil.
Another method to make croutons is tossing these pieces of bread with olive oil. Place them on a tray and toast it in the oven until golden. Make sure to keep your eyes on it occasionally as they can get burnt quick.
If prefer Fried Pork Fat (Tép Mỡ), click here for recipe.
Preparing Fried Shallot and Green Onion Oil
In a small bowl, add green onion and a pinch of salt.  Set aside.
Bring cooking oil to a medium heat.  Once it's hot, add shallots and cook until it slightly turns brown. 
Turn off heat.  Let it cook for a couple minutes until shallot is golden brown.  Don't wait for shallot to turn golden brown and turn off heat as the oil is still very hot and it will burn the shallot very quickly.  Remove fried shallot with a strainer. Set aside.
Pour the hot oil into the green onion bowl. Mix it well. Set aside.
If you use store-bought crispy fried shallots, cook oil in smashed garlic until garlic is just starting to lightly brown. Turn off the heat. Pour the hot garlic oil into the green onion bowl.
Preparing Fish Sauce
Mix all the fish sauce ingredients. Set aside. 
Steaming Bánh Bèo
Fill a steamer with 2/3 water and bring to a rapid boil. Place a layer of plates into the steamer for about 30 seconds or until hot. Stir the mix before each use. Fill each plate with 2/3 batter. Cover and steam for about 3 minutes.
Remove rice cakes. Repeat this process until batter is finished.
Top bánh bèo with scallion oil, shrimp paste, crispy shallots, croutons or fried fat pork. 
Drizzle or flood with fish sauce. Scoop it out with a teaspoon and thoroughly enjoy!